Muzaffarpur, 28 May-2014, TNN: Power consumers of Muzaffarpur town are highly agitated these days over wrong meter reading and inflated bills. Public resentment is building up in different parts of the town in protest against ESSEL Vidyut Vitaran Muzaffarpur Ltd, a franchisee of North Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd for penalizing even innocent customers whose outstanding bills are not being adjusted in new bills.
Whereas on the one hand, power supply to this town has considerably improved since the takeover of power distribution by this private firm, the power consumers have been forced to approach ESSEL engineers daily to correct bills. Huge crowd of complainants at bill collection centres of ESSEL in Kedarnath Road and Maripur everyday gives ample evidence to prove that power consumers in general are not at all satisfied with the working of ESSEL particularly as far as meter reading is concerned.
The meter-reading and bill distribution section head of ESSEL, Rajesh Goud said on Tuesday that his company has engaged 170 meter readers including 70% new and 30% old staff of the erstwhile BSEB. New meter readers are not reaching consumers properly as the addresses shown by erstwhile BSEB were vague and not accurately shown in their accounts. As a result, meter readers are accessing only 60,000 out of about 90,000 consumers of the urban area. Bills are being made available to only 50,000 consumers month-wise. The main hurdle, he said was that the data base of consumers handed over to ESSEL at the time of takeover was not correctly entered. The company hopes to overcome this problem in shortest possible time, he assured.
ESSEL’s public relations officer (PRO) Asif Maksud said the number of every electric pole is being painted to tag them with meter numbers so that the address of every consumer can be easily accessed both for meter reading and bill distribution.
The customer care service head of ESSEL, Dharmendra Ray said the company can correct or adjust the payments of bills since November last only. If the complaint involves earlier period, it is unable to correct at present because it cannot bear the liability of earlier period. He said 60% of wrong billing is because the legacy of the earlier regime. A joint committee with engineers of BSEB and ESSEL is trying to sort out the problem, he said.
Masud disclosed that ESSEL has started ‘photo reading’ to avoid any mistake in meter reading. After a couple of months when this provision would be fully implemented in the town, no complaint regarding wrong billing would be possible, he hoped.
On the other hand, one Sanjay Kumar Singh of Parao Pokhar lane no. 1 showed the bills which prove that the bill paid in April last, clearing all outstanding bills, was not adjusted in this month’s bill although the current month’s payment has been shown as paid. Rishu Kumar of Malighat complained that he has not received any bill after July last year although he has been getting assurances every month that he would get the bill next month. He would be unable to pay all the bills at a time. A consumer of Satpura Colony said that he has been forced to pay Rs 87,000 at a time. Poonam Devi of Aamgola complained that she has received exaggerated bills. Md Shagir of Rambag complained that he is unable to pay the absurd bill he has received.
That apart, ESSEL is compelling senior citizens and ladies to climb the staircase of its Kedarnath Road office which has one-foot high steps.